pollution

Better Shoes Foundation Marks the Path Toward a Sustainable Shoe Industry

Better Shoes Foundation, Sustainable Shoe Industry, Founded by Po-Zu


The dangers of the clothing industry are well known to me. Chemical dyes, cramped working conditions, long hours, poor ventilation, safety code violations, depression, child labor, poor medical and vocational resources. But I have to admit I haven't devoted nearly as much mental energy to the shoe industry, even though I'm a self proclaimed shoe-aholic.

I've always believed that the shoes make or break the outfit and I've had an eye for the unique and slightly weird since I was young. Even though I've switched to ethical shopping with a focus on buying less overall, I have a hard time resisting a high quality, beautiful pair of shoes. They make me feel good about myself.

Shoes are also important from a health perspective. As I learned from speaking with the founder of local shoe company, OESH, the way a footbed is made has a profound effect on joint and whole body health (Did you know that most shoe lasts are developed off of the male foot even though a woman's gait is distinctly different due to our broader hips? Not cool).

Shoes make us feel confident, make us taller, and help us take on physically challenging tasks. But, like most other things created by humans, the shoe industry has a dark underbelly.


A few introductory facts:


  • Global shoe manufacturing is a $195 billion dollar industry
  • The global footwear industry employs over 5 million people, with 87% of manufacturing done in Asia.
  • Only 2% of the final price of goods goes toward the factory worker's wage, even though assembly can take as many as 360 steps per shoe.
  • Shoe waste will reach 1.2 million tons, but only 5% of shoes and shoe parts are recycled.
  • Despite it being the 4th most toxic pollutant in the world, 85% of leather is tanned with Chromium. (Source)

In many ways, the shoe industry parallels the garment industry, both in terms of labor conditions and pollution. Yet the use of Chromium in leather processing - not to mention the massive amount of livestock that are killed to to maintain the industry's demands (though most leather is a byproduct of the meat industry) - contributes to greater ecological damage on a per-item basis. It's time we take notice. 

Better Shoes Foundation, Sustainable Shoe Industry, Founded by Po-Zu

The Better Shoes Foundation aims to do just that. 


The Better Shoes Foundation was founded by sustainable shoe company, Po-Zu in celebration of their 10 year anniversary. The website has an open source format in order to provide collaborative and up-to-the-minute information about the industry as a whole, from design to materials sourcing to consumption to post-consumer life. Get an overview of the industry or dig a little deeper. There are links, resources, handouts, infographics, and a brand directory to help consumers and suppliers join up and make more sustainable choices. 

Though the Better Shoes Foundation is primarily concerned with being a resource to suppliers, they offer fairly thorough resources for consumers:

The Brands page specifically celebrates companies that have prioritized ethics and sustainability from day one. I immediately noticed a few of my favorites, like Nisolo and Oliberte and several I'd never heard of, like Conker Shoes and D'Arçé. The list conveniently divides vegan and non-vegan options so you can shop according to your specific standards easily.

The For Consumers page provides a directory of apps and guides - like Good On You - that break down the ethical standards of specific companies.

In an industry and a world that tends to favor opaqueness over transparency, I'm impressed with the breadth and depth of information made available through the Better Shoes Foundation. 


As I've said before, I'm of the opinion that staying educated and being well-informed is part of the fun of being a conscious consumer. I could literally spend hours reading up on every part of the shoe making process. In fact, I will.

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Check out the Better Shoes Foundation here.



This post was not monetarily sponsored, but I was gifted a pair of shoes from Po-Zu as a part of this collaboration. That being said, I wouldn't have heard about the Better Shoes Foundation otherwise, so I'm glad I got the chance to work with them. 

Image via Po-Zu.

it's time to reduce our plastic consumption


Base photo: Plastic Pellets - "Nurdles" by gentlemanrook on flickr; used under Creative Commons license

This post was written by Hannah Baror-Padilla and originally appeared on Gold Polka Dots, an eco-conscious blog that focuses on ethical alternatives for fashion, beauty and food.
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Plastic has taken over every aspect of our lives and is affecting our health, animals and the environment. Over the last 10 years, we have produced more plastic than we had in the last century. Half of the plastic we use is only used once and thrown away. Throwing plastic away means it is either buried in landfills, remade into other products or lost in the environment where it ultimately washes out to sea because it takes 500-1,000 years to degrade. When plastic “degrades” it breaks down into smaller fragments, but never goes away because plastic was made to be indestructible. And yes, this indestructible plastic is made with chemicals that we as well as animals ingest.
BPA, or Bisphenol, was originally created as a human birth control chemical in the early 1900’s, but banned because of its risks of causing cancer in women. However, in the 1950’s, scientists realized that BPA can be used to harden plastic to make it that much more durable. To this day, BPA is still used in baby bottles, water bottles, food packaging, cans and receipts. 93% of adults are contaminated with BPA. There have been studies on animals that show BPA affects hormone levels, causes brain and behavior problems, cancer, heart problems and other conditions like obesity, diabetes, ADHD. There is an increased risk in children because their bodies have a decreased ability to clear BPA from their systems.
In 2010, scientists revealed that the general population may suffer adverse health effects from current BPA levels. In 2012, the FDA banned the use of BPA in baby bottles, but the Environmental Working Group called the ban “”purely cosmetic” and said the FDA would have to ban BPA from all food packaging. The FDA continues to support the safety of BPA in food packaging...
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Read the rest and find additional resources on this topic at Gold Polka Dots.